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Houjicha 101; Japan’s Popular Refreshing Roasted Green Tea

Houjicha, Hojicha 101Food & Drinks
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Houjicha is popular green tea in Japan, it is common to be offered Houjicha complimentary at restaurants and accommodations as well as “Sencha” green tea. Houjicha is roasted green tea, so it is the same tea leaves from Japanese green tea. Although it has a different taste and aroma from green tea and black tea, houjicha brings you health benefits and high relaxation with its nutty roasted flavor.

Comparing to the recent “Matcha” healthy trending, Houjicha has been not so popular worldwide, but it actually suitable for anyone even those who don’t like the Japanese green tea taste.

Besides, houjicha is low in caffeine.

Today, I am going to introdcue all about ‘Houjicha” and how effect your healthy life.

The Overview Of Houjicha

“Houjicha” (ほうじ茶)is a tea that Bancha (later harvested new green tea ) or Sencha, and also Kukicha (used stems) are roasted over high heat to bring out a unique toasty aroma and flavor.

47 Phrase

“Houji” (焙じ) is the noun term of “Houji – ru” (焙じる), which literally means “to roast”. “Cha” is “Tea” in Japanese, so “Houjicha” is “Roasted tea” in Japanese.

Houjicha? Hojicha?

You can see both spelling “Hojicha” and “Houjicha”. I am not an authority so I am not sure which is right. But the reason I spell “houjicha” because of the right translation based on when writing it in Japanese. Yet, if the spelling like “Hojicha”, it is more based on its pronunciation.

How Does Houjicha Taste Like?

Despite the description of houjicha is different for each connoisseur, it’s nutty, toasty, refreshing, and naturally sweet flavor.

The main features of Houjicha are…

  1. Roasty Flavor
  2. Refreshing clear after-taste
  3. Dark brown color

Because of the roasting process, houjicha has a different color from other kinds of green tea and also has less caffeine and tannin that create astringency flavor. Therefore, the after taste is nicely clear, and it is easy to drink for people who are not big fans of Japanese green tea.

Clear refreshing roasty taste, it goes well with any kind of meals and sweets.

Houjicha And KukiCha

houjcha, hojicha, roasted Japanese green tea

Even with the same houjicha category, the taste differs depends on its ingredients between roasted leaves and roasted stems. Houjicha mainly made with leaves, the taste becomes lighter and refreshing, and with more stem parts, the taste becomes richer and sweeter.

A stem is “Kuki” (茎, くき) in Japanese, so sometimes hojicha made of stems is called “Kukicha” or “Kuki Houjicha”.

Low In Caffeine, High Relaxation Effect In Houjicha

Houjicha and “Sencha” green tea are known as low in caffeine.

Caffeine contentSource
Coffee95 mg1cup (8 fl oz)USDA
Green Tea30 – 50 mg1cup (8 fl oz)health line

The table below is sourced from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

 Caffeine content/100g
Coffee60mg
English tea30mg
Gyokuro160mg
Sencha20mg
Houjicha20mg
Genmaicha10mg
Oolong tea20mg

The caffeine content of hojicha varies depending on the type of tea leaves used (the difference between second and third teas, etc.) and the manufacturing process.

As you know, “Caffeine” has a moderately bitter taste and its main effect is central nervous system excitatory action. This is the reason why caffeine is used to improve mental alertness experiencing fatigue or drowsiness.

However, depending on the constitution, it may have the opposite effect (sleepiness and drowsiness).

It because of roasting process, the caffeine level is reduced in houjicha.

Therefore, houjicha is ideal for adults and children, those who have sensitivity for caffeine effects and digestion.

In fact in Japan, mothers often give kids houjicha devided with water.

Houjicha is also rich in theanine, which supports the relaxation effect on your mind, body, and brain.

Not only rich theanine, but Houjicha also has particularly rich in a component calledpyrazine”produce by the roasting process. The unique toasty aroma comes from pyrazine and works to relax the brain with it.

Houjicha can be expected to have a high relaxing effect with the combination of theanine and pyrazine.

Boost Blood Circulation

Not only the winter season, even in the summer season because of the over air conditioning, are you often bothered with cold sensitivity?
Hot drinks would be nice to warm the body up, but beverages with a high content of caffeine such as coffee and gyokuro green tea can work negatively. They’re a diuretic, which removes heat retaining water from your body through urination.

Houjicha is low in caffeine, and also “pyrazine” has the effect of promoting blood flow, and warming the body.

Speaking other nutrients, “Catechin” (polyphenol) contained in houjicha has the effect of breaking down fat cells. As well as boosting blood circulation, Hojicha can be effective for Metabolism.

Vitamin C And Catechin Effects

Catechin also has a bactericidal action. Since it suppresses the bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath, drinking roasted green tea gives you a simple etiquette to prevent bad breath.

As well as green tea, houjicha has rich in vitamin C, its amount is said to be 3 to 5 times that of lemon.

Vitamin C is sensitive for heat but becomes hard to destroy when intaken at the same time as catechin.

As you know, VitaminC brings various health benefits such as,

  1. Antioxidant effect
  2. Beauty skin (prevention of melanin pigmentation that causes spots and freckles, support for collagen production)
  3. Boost the immune system

How To Make Houjicha Tea

Kyusu teapot and Yunomi teacupes, Japanese tea set, pouring green tea

To brew Japanese green tea leaves in a proper way, prepare a pair Kyusu teapot (急須) and Yunomi teacups (湯呑).

It is ideal for both as a first tea set for a beginner or for the tea connoisseur to enjoy Japanese green tea. (Not Matcha.)

However, you don’t want to have the set just for houjicha or green tea once a while, do you?

I use “French Press” to make any kind of tea all the time.

You don’t have French press either?

There are tea-bag or powder types of Hojicha products, so it can be handier for daily life.

Itoen Products

Ito En(伊藤園) is the largest Japanese tea distributor company and 4th largest company in the soft beverage market in Japan. Especially, this company is famous for producing bottled green tea as the first company.

“Itoen Hojicha Premium”is used 100% “Ichiban cha” produced in Japan. Ichibancha is the tea harvested the first sprout of tea leaves in a year, which is rich in Amino acid creates Umami flavor and aroma. Generally, second harvested tea or later than that is used for roasted green tea, but because of the name “Premium bag”, it is the premium hojicha to bring you luxury relaxation time with its premium flavor and aroma. Uses a triangular nylon bag designed for brewing hojicha to enhance its flavor and aroma.

When purchasing “Hojicha powder”, you need to be careful about “how to use”. There are two types of hojicha powder, for a drink and for baking. Generally, the product for baking, the houjicha green tea is finely grated, so it’s hardly dissolved when making a drink.

Itoen Oi Ocha Hojicha powder is the instant hojicha powder, easy to dissolved, pocketable, doesn’t choose hot or iced, even you can make hojicha latte mixed with hot milk.

How To Make Houjicha Tea With Kyusu Teapot

The Amount Of Tea Leaves

Cha saji, the special tea spoon

The best amount of tea leaves is about 6 grams(0.2 oz, about 4 tsp) for 3 teacups of houjicha. (however, it depends on the product) If you have “Chasaji” (茶さじ) which is the special spoon for Japanese green tea, it is about 2 Chasaji spoon.

This is “Kuki hojicha”, used mainly roasted green tea stems. Compared to the regular refreshing aroma of leaf hojicha tea, the stem hojicha tea is mellow rich taste and also recommended for those who are concerned about the slight bitterness of Hojicha leaves.

The Water Temperature

High temperature is the point to bring out houjicha aroma, so the water temperature should be 90 – 100 degrees Celsius ( around 212 Fahrenheit).

Hojicha is a hard tea leaf and contains few umami components (amino acids) such as theanine, so it is difficult to allow umami components to bring out at low temperatures.

Infuse Time

Put a lid on Kyusu pot and steep for about 45 seconds.

To decant, hold Kyusu pot while securing the lid with another hand. Rocking back and forth or turning gently to brew rich houjicha.

Pour; Mawashi Sosogi

Mawashi sosogi, Japanese green tea manner, rule, tea pouring way

Here is the Japanese tea manner, “Mawashi Sosogi”. Don’t fill the teacup at one time. To make an equal concentration of flavor for each, pour a small amount into each teacup, alternating from one cup. Like if you pour each cup from right, reverse from left, do in three, four times. (1→2→3, 3→2→1)

Cold Brew Hojicha

You can also enjoy cold brew Hojicha. If you like houjicha, the process is very simple, give it a try if you like houjicha. You don’t even need much special equipment beyond a large container for making the houjicha.

The slow infusion is the point to pull all the roasted flavor from the houjicha tea.

Prepare houjicha teabags. Put tea bags in the container and pour about 4 cups of water then let it steep for around 3 hours. Take out tea bags when you think it’s ready to drink.

When making cold brew houjicha with ice and water, the astringency will be suppressed more.

I understand you don’t want to waste any tea essence from tea leaves, however, tea leaves begin to deteriorate as time goes by. Also, Hojicha will lose its flavor when leaving tea bags in the container. Be sure to take out the teabag before storing it.

Be careful of deterioration, especially in the summertime. Store it in the refrigerator and better to drink it within a day.

If you want to use loose leaves, cold brew coffee maker is an ideal tool. Of course, you can make cold brew coffee so it may be not a waste to buy.

Hojicha Latte & Hojicha Sweets

hojicha latte, gifu, mino, Japan

↑↑↑ Iced Hojicha Soy Latte At HAPPA STAND In Mino city, Gifu

There is “Matcha Latte” worldwide, why not “Hojicha Latte”!

I am not sure Hojicha latte is on the menu already at your favorite cafe, anyway in Japan, “hojicha latte” is popular even at Starbucks in Japan.

Honestly, I like Hojicha latte is better than Matcha latte. Sometimes I don’t like slight bitter after taste of Matcha latte.

The taste of hojicha latte is like tea with milk added toasty nutty flavor from roasted tea.

If you would like to try, make homemade Hojicha latte.

Hojicha Latte Recipe

I like adding a very little ground ginger topping.

Other topping options…

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Honey
  3. White Chocolate
  4. Rum

 

Hojicha latte recipe

Houjicha Latte

CourseDrinks
CuisineJapanese

Ingredients  

  • 1 tbsp Hojicha loose leaves (or 2 houjicha tea bags)
  • 1 cup Milk (soy, almond, low fat..)
  • Sugar to taste

Instructions 

  • Put milk and loose tea (or tea bags) in a milk pan, allow to boil with low heat. Stir gently sometimes.
  • When the milk starts boiling, add sugar and stir until sugar melted.
  • Pour houjicha latte into the cup straining with a tea strainer.
  • *To Roast loose tea for in the pan for few minutes before making the latte, it gives more flavor and aroma.
Keywordgreen tea, Hot, Iced

 

If you want to make Houjicha latte instantly, there is a “hojicha latte mix” produced by AGF. The “Cafe Latory” series is a premium version of the “Blendy” series. 

Because of its toasty natty naturally sweet flavor and aroma, Houjicha sweets also have been popular in Japan as well as Matcha sweets. Compared with Matcha sweets attract with its unique green tea bitter taste, Hojicha sweets have a gentle but rich roasted flavor, and after taste is clear. 

Try houjicha powder instead of matcha powder for your favorite Matcha sweets recipe. 

Conclusion

Houjicha is actually suitable tea intaking as the daily refreshment especially for those who have a caffeine sensitivity, digestion troubles, those who don’t like green tea or black tea.

Personally, I like Hojicha rather than Matcha because of its clear and refreshing taste. I always choose Hojicha latte rather than Matcha latte.

If you are getting tired of the same daily drink, why not Japanese roasted green tea next time???

Houjicha, Hojicha 101

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